Italian served three-month ban for Ferrari links
Michele Scarponi’s lawyer and manager will meet with Lampre-Merida manager Giuseppe Saronni on Tuesday to discuss his future with the team, according to a report in Gazzetta dello Sport.
Scarponi served a three-month suspension during the off-season after he admitted to the Italian Olympic Committee that he had been trained by Dr. Michele Ferrari. That ban expired on December 31 but Lampre has not yet fielded Scarponi in a race this season and he did not partake in the team’s official photo shoot in January.
After Scarponi did not appear at the Trofeo Mallorca earlier this month, where he had been expected to begin his season, Lampre confirmed to the media that he remained suspended by the team pending further talks with management.
It is understood that Lampre’s new sub-sponsor, the bike manufacturer Merida, has expressed its reservations about Scarponi’s impact on the team’s image.
Although Lampre’s new signing Filippo Pozzato also served a three-month ban in 2012 after he too confessed to working with Ferrari, he has raced this season. Pozzato won the Trofeo Laigueglia on Saturday and will lead Lampre at the classics.
Scarponi’s lawyer and agent will attempt to broker a solution to the impasse in a meeting with Saronni near Milan on Tuesday, although it is widely expected that Scarponi will in any case leave the team at the end of the season when his contract expires.
Scarponi’s long-rumoured links to Ferrari were confirmed by Gazzetta dello Sport in October, using details gleaned from the Padua-based investigation into Ferrari’s activities. The Gazzetta piece included a transcript of a bugged conversation between Scarponi and Ferrari from September 2010, in which the pair allegedly discussed doping.
Although Scarponi has served a three-month ban for frequenting Ferrari, the Italian Olympic Committee warned that he could face further sanctions if the Padua investigation reveals more damning allegations surrounding their collaboration. The inquiry is expected to close in the coming month, hence Lampre’s current reticence towards taking a definitive stance on Scarponi’s status.
Scarponi previously served an 18-month suspension after the Operacion Puerto investigation revealed that he had blood doped under the supervision of Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes.
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